A closer look at Condo Association fees versus home maintenance cost

A closer look at Condo Association fees versus home maintenance cost

A closer look at Condo Association fees versus home maintenance costMany buyers perceive that the maintenance fees for a condo seem high compared to the monthly costs of owning a house. This is not always the case if you break it down. Typically, the condo maintenance for a mid-price point building ranges from $ 0.40-0.70/SF to $ 1/SF per square foot for a luxury building. Depending on the condo, this maintenance cost could include reserves for major repairs, lessening the need for special assessments.

Here are the monthly costs of owning a mid- price point home:

$300/insurance monthly ( approximately 0.75-1.5 % of home value depending on age of home, east or west of US1 and flood zone location)

$75-150/ month in water (will depend on city and if property is on sewer or septic)

$ 50-150/month trash removal

$ 100-200/month gardener

$ 30/month basic cable

$ 35/month alarm monitoring

$ 40/month pest control

Total$ 755 monthly – so let’s say if the house is 1800 SF, we are at $0.41/SF.

But… you have to figure roof replacement reserves about $1000/year, plus painting outside $1000/ year, tree trimming $300/year, pruning and fertilizing $500/year, pool service $ 1000/year, and other external maintenance you would not have in a condo, adds another $0.18 per square foot monthly.

Maybe there is a small garden and no pool, but sooner or later roofs need to be fixed, maintained or replaced; the exterior needs to be painted, pressure cleaned, etc; trees need to be trimmed for hurricane season; and plumbing or electric repairs can be more extensive than in a condo.

Now the condo maintenance does not seem so high anymore when you actually compare monthly or yearly costs with the house. The condo can also offer security, pool, beach access, gym, tennis, gardens, concierge, management, etc., so you are getting more services for the money you pay.

The big question is, “Will there be special assessments?” It is easy to find out from the association what major repairs have been made and what the condo still plans to assess for. Many buildings in South Florida have been going through their 40-year recertification and have replaced almost all major systems in the building, or are in the process of doing so.

Many condos are also starting to have reserve funds, collecting from the owners each year the exact amount needed to repair or replace major building facilities in the future. For example, the elevators in 15 years; paint in 5 years; roof in 20 years, etc. This is a fair and responsible way to run a building, as each condo owner pays into the fund whether they live there 2 years or 10 years.

One of the big factors is control. Buyers feel that owning a house gives them more control over the expenses and they are not at the mercy of a poorly run condo association. The alternative is to get involved in the association which can be hard work, often includes politics and very little gratitude from other condo owners.

So it is really a lifestyle decision; your own space versus community living and amenities. When you break it down, the monthly maintenance of a house runs about the same as a condo!

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